When Kylo Ren said to let the past die, he probably wasn't talking about those old Lego Star Wars games - the ones which already adapted the film's original trilogy, prequels, and a chunk of the Clone Wars. But like a freshly-tweaked George Lucas special edition re-release, the Skywalker Saga does do something a bit like that.
To be fair, those older games are some of the most technically outdated in developer TT Games' portfolio. Time, console hardware and game design have all moved on, and The Skywalker Saga now stands as very different beast. After a lengthy and somewhat troubled development, TT Games has at last completed its nine-film compilation - but that is only half the story. For as long as you spend on the game's main film storylines, you can also spend just as long aimlessly wandering through the game's expansive array of planets, undertaking in the series' largest collectible hunt ever.
The three Star Wars film trilogies can be played in any order, essentially giving three start and end points for your journey around the game's galaxy. As ever, finished levels (there are five per movie) can then be replayed to unlock further secrets, while visited planets get unlocked on your galaxy map. With so much material to adapt, it's perhaps unsurprising these shortcut through some of the saga's less-vital sections, with the series' typical warm humour used to lighten any of its darker moments. What is surprising, however, is how much the game relies on its open world in missions themselves.
Missions typically start and end somewhere in one of the game's open world areas, often with a small task to do before the level begins proper. Sometimes action will take place in a bespoke, scripted area - such as onboard Episode 4's Tantive IV, or in command of a Lego spaceship like Episode 2's Coruscant chase sequence or Episode 8's bombing run. But many other levels trace paths over the game's open world areas, and are the worse for it.
Overall, sections in these open world areas feel less interactive than the linear levels of old. There's less to build, less to adapt and less to see change - and isn't that the point of Lego? There's also often a lot of walking, from one place in an open area to another. Take the game's Episode 8 Ahch-To level, where Rey undergoes Jedi training. Her mirror-like Force vision in the Porg-ridden planet's Sith cave offers up a neat piece of unique gameplay, but to get there and back requires you slowly follow Luke around the planet's cliffs to get from A to B to wherever he parked his X-Wing to finish the job.
Lego games have always offered replayability, and that is certainly true for Lego Star Wars. If you've played the Lego series before you'll know what to expect - several journeys through each story episode with different character abilities to unlock every secret, as you slowly unlock stud multipliers and grind out currency to buy characters and further upgrades. This is livened up by a definite boost to characters as you go through the game, with everything from walking speeds to spaceship laser power upgradable, and some nice class-specific bonuses for certain groups of characters.
Away from its levels, the game's open galaxy is something of a mixed bag. As a sightseeing tour to wander through, it is up there with some of TT Games' most ambitious digital creations - from the wild and varied worlds of Doctor Who and Portal in Lego Dimensions, to the painstakingly put-together Hogwarts in Lego Harry Potter Years 5-9. It's worth stating how good the game can look in the right settings - on Tatooine at twin sunset, or in the grime of a Death Star garbage compactor, or even just in the close-ups on character's faces, as you see their Lego minifigure seams showing through. Digital Lego has never looked so tactile.
Almost every planet seen in the nine-film saga can be explored, but the chores you'll find there are often just that. With more than 1100 collectible bricks and 300 characters to unlock, there's some obvious repetition in many sidequest types. There's a smattering of humour to see you through (yes, Dominic Monaghan's Episode 9 character does get a Hobbit joke), but too many of these puzzles are too similar and too vague, set by random NPCs who could be from any open world game. One frequent time-consuming mission type sees you scouring an area for a particular NPC - sifting through crowds of similar minifigure people for the right one.
For those venturing forth into the game's collectible hunting, there are at least some good options to track your completionist efforts. Level minikits and missable sub-objectives are listed out in the game's expansive menus, alongside each open world area's side-missions and collectibles, and a further set of challenges (find trapped Porgs!) which are spread across the entire game. Finding everything the Lego Star Wars galaxy has to offer is going to take you some time.
I enjoyed my journey through the three Lego Star Wars trilogies, though I hit one progression-blocking bug in Episode 2 which meant I'm still unable to see that set of films through. (TT Games has told me this is being fixed in an upcoming patch but, if you're reading this, please also add an option to restart a level in progress!) For the most part, the game's film retellings are humourous if simple fun - there's nothing here you can't button mash or Lego brick smash through - and I particularly enjoyed Rise of Skywalker, where that film's often-daft script is well sent-up. After a quick tour, however, the game's open worlds held less pull. TT Games, maybe don't kill the past - and return to those linear levels if you fancy adapting The Mandalorian.
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